Saturday, September 19, 2020     Volume: 21, Issue: 29

Santa Maria Sun / Spotlight

The following article was posted on June 7th, 2017, in the Santa Maria Sun - Volume 18, Issue 14 [ Submit a Story ]
The following articles were printed from Santa Maria Sun [] - Volume 18, Issue 14

Spotlight on: Community Environmental Council, Solarize Santa Barbara

April Price, renewable energy specialist


Santa Barbara County’s summer months see longer, sunnier days, which North County residents have the possibility of turning into dollars.

A program spearheaded by the Community Environmental Council (CEC) called Solarize Santa Barbara County gave residents in South County the chance to buy solar panels at low costs, and now North County residents can hop in on the deal until July 30 of this year.

The goal of Solarize Santa Barbara County is to connect residents with solar panels at a “discounted, group-purchase” price, according to April Price, the CEC’s renewable energy specialist. The program also aims to educate people about solar panels, how they work, and what they should expect if they get one.

Michael and Jill Murray became Solarize Santa Barbara customers last year with help from the Community Environmental Council. Now, the program is expanding to northern Santa Barbara County.

The CEC facilitates Solarize programs in others parts of California, and has worked in Santa Barbara since 2011.

“This is our largest program, and we’re just looking to offer the benefits of this group-purchase program to folks throughout Santa Barbara County,” Price said.

The CEC works specifically with two solar panel providers that already work in the county, Brighton Solar and Planet Solar. Both offer a couple of different options for consumers, like rooftop solar panels.

Even though companies already do work locally, they still went through the CEC’s vetting process, Price said.

“The application to work with our program is fairly rigorous,” Price said. “That team of folks is looking at the financial performance of the company in the last year, they’re looking to make sure the equipment that’s being offered is high quality and that the warranties are sufficient, and so through that process and this program, we’ve selected two companies to work with.”

The response since the program began in South County has been good, Price said. More than 500 residents fitted their houses or properties with solar panels, she said.

One of those satisfied customers is 2nd District County Supervisor Janet Wolf, who went through Solarize Santa Barbara to get some panels on her roof, according to a release from the CEC.

“My husband and I participated in the CEC Solarize program approximately seven years ago,” Wolf said in the release. “The information we received, the pricing, and the installation were seamless. We now have the benefit of solar that consistently has decreased our energy bills, and we will have paid for the entire solar array sooner than expected.”

Locals with solar panels can actually contribute energy to the grid around them when not using power coming from the panel, Price said. Through a tariff program called Net Energy Metering, solar panel owners can accrue credits for the energy they put into the grid.

Second District County Supervisor Janet Wolf (pictured left) and other South County residents were early adopters of the Community Environmental Council’s Solarize Santa Barbara program, which connected them to affordable solar panels from companies approved by the council.

During the summer months, many customers find they contribute more energy to PG&E or Southern California Edison’s grids than they use. Panel owners receive credits for the energy they put into the grid, which are redeemed later when the panels aren’t contributing energy to their home, like at night, Price said. For those whose panels feed more energy in than they take from the grid, their energy bill at the end of the month may include credits, not debits.

This allows panel owners like Wolf to pay off their panels sooner than they thought.

“You still maintain your connection to the electrical grid when you go solar in the vast majority of cases,” Price said, “and it’s that program, Net Energy Metering, that does allow you to bank those kilowatt hour credits, so you can use them at a later time.”

Now, CEC is mobilizing to get residents in the rest of the county aware of the Solarize program, Price said.

When people in an area become more aware of the program and the benefits of going solar, it has a snowball effect, Price said. Locals hoping to learn more are welcome to visit the CEC’s website at

An educational workshop is scheduled for June 21 at 6 p.m. at the Goleta Valley Community Center in Goleta. Another workshop in Santa Maria is in the planning stages, Price said. Locals can get information about the next workshop at or

“The adoption in northern Santa Barbara County, so far, has been a bit slower,” Price said. “I think it’s just because people don’t know our organization and we don’t have the same relationships as we do in South County.

“I’m really looking to share this information with people in North County,” she added. “It’s a great deal, and I just want to make sure more people can take advantage of it.” 


• On July 12, from 7:30 to 9 a.m., Santa Maria Mayor Alice Patino and City Manager Rick Haydon will deliver the annual State of the City address at the Radisson Hotel. Admission costs are only $20 for members of the Santa Maria Valley Chamber of Commerce and $30 for non-members. For more information or to register for the event, send an email to 

• The Solvang Chamber of Commerce will hold a chamber mixer event on June 13 from 5 to 7 p.m. The event takes place at the Solvang Motorcycle Museum at 320 Alisal Road, Solvang. More information is available at or 

Managing Editor Joe Payne wrote this week’s Biz Spotlight. Information should be sent to the Sun via fax, email, or mail.

Weekly Poll
Should the county Public Health Department help elementary schools apply for the state’s waiver program?

Yes, that’s what the department is there for.
Schools shouldn’t open at all right now, nevermind with the county’s help.
If the state thinks schools are ready, what’s the problem?
Schools should have to fend for themselves; it shows whether they’re ready to handle reopening.

| Poll Results

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